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For more than two decades, IT departments have focused on improved software toolkits as their primary strategy for ensuring the effective management of technology infrastructure and services. The prevailing belief was that given the right software and hardware, network and systems management teams could effectively monitor and troubleshoot even the most complex computing and communications environments.

Several factors, however, are causing IT managers to question this tool-centric approach. For one thing, e-business environments now encompass a growing range of hardware, software and networking elements as well as infrastructure, application and content support from third-party providers. This complexity has made it difficult for IT departments to put together the right management tools for the job. The acquisition of new tools often winds up creating serious implementation and training issues for IT staffs. As a result, most management teams have found that they don't necessarily become more effective or productive just because they acquire more software tools.

Another issue is the changing nature of the IT team itself. With limited personnel budgets and often-conflicting technology priorities, IT managers can no longer depend on having more technicians on hand to integrate and operate their expanding management toolkits. The addition of more tools can therefore have the counterproductive effect of adding to the workload of already overburdened staffs.

The objectives of management teams have changed as well. In the early days of mainframe and distributed computing, the goal of the management team was to ensure the health of each constituent component of a relatively stable computing environment. This objective lent itself to the use of component-specific management tools by highly task-specific management teams.

Today, though, IT staffs must pursue more sophisticated management goals to achieve the requisite end-to-end service levels. These goals include the proactive, cross-disciplinary troubleshooting of potential performance problems before they impact revenue-generating services and the rapid, error-free implementation of changes in order to respond quickly to evolving customer and market requirements.

New management tools alone--no matter how sophisticated--cannot enable IT teams to meet these growing challenges. Instead, IT departments must begin refining their management processes and practices to cope with complexity, change and the need for an end-to-end perspective on service-level monitoring.


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